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Adult child maintenance for over 18s

Child support is usually paid until a child turns 18.

If a child or children over 18 can’t support themselves they can still receive financial support for education expenses or if they have a mental or physical disability. Get legal advice.

Child support is usually paid until a child turns 18. Some situations where it may be stopped early include:

  • if the child becomes self-sufficient
  • if the child marries or enters into a defacto or marriage like relationship
  • if the child is adopted
  • if the child dies

If a child or children over 18 can’t support themselves, a court can make an order for parents to continue to provide financial support because they:

  • are completing their secondary or tertiary education (eg secondary school, TAFE, university, apprenticeship)
  • have a mental or physical disability.

This is called adult child maintenance.

If a child turns 18 while completing their final year of secondary school, the parent receiving payments can apply to the Department of Human Services (Child Support) (DHS) to extend support until the end of the school year. The application needs to be made before the child turns 18, and can be made by a parent or a child.

The amount of maintenance to be paid will depend on the child’s necessary expenses, each parent’s financial position and their situation. Get legal advice.

Parents can make their own agreement or file consent orders in court (where both parents agree to the orders). If an agreement can’t be reached, the court can decide the amount to be paid. A court order for ongoing payments can be registered for collection with the DHS and can be paid to the parent or the child.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you:

  • want to apply for adult child maintenance for over 18s
  • are being asked to continue payments for a child over 18 and you disagree about the payments.

Get legal advice

We can give legal advice about child support matters.

The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.

Caxton Community Legal Centre gives specialist legal advice on child support for carer parents and liable (paying) parents, and offers a self-help kit for making an application to court for adult child maintenance.

Gold Coast Legal Service gives legal advice on child support.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.

Department of Human Services (Child Support) administers the child support scheme to ensure parents contribute to the costs of raising children after separation. Gives help and support to parents, including calculating, collecting and transferring child support payments.

Federal Circuit Court makes decisions about issues including child support matters.

Family Relationship Centres can arrange dispute resolution to help you and the other parent reach agreements about children's issues, including payments.

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